Bold, Italics, Strikethrough: WhatsApp update adds new formatting to messages

WhatsApp, the most popular chatting service, will now let you add the new options of bold, italics and strikethrough to your everyday WhatsApp chat in its latest update.

The new feature was first tested in a beta option but is now available for all users with updates to the iOS and Android app. For most people, those updates should automatically install, and come with version 2.12.17 for iPhones and 2.12.535 for Android handsets.

The new feature is hidden in the app, and needs to be turned on by including certain characters. Here’s how it works:

1. For bold, add asterisks to either side of your text, e.g. *bold*
2. For italics, add underscores to either side of the specific word or words, e.g. _italics_
3. For strikethrough, add a tilde (~) to either side of the word or words, e.g. ~strikethrough~

It’s also possible to can surround a word with all three of the characters and have each of the formatting options apply to a word, such as _*bolditalics*_.

These new stylings can also be entered in the WhatsApp web client — which launched last year — but the formatting will only show up in the app-based version of chats.

The move is just the latest in a range of changes to WhatsApp that look to make it into a fully-featured communication tool and allow it to be used in the office, and bring it into line with other chat apps like Slack.

WhatsApp’s latest update, available to beta testers, allows users to reply quickly to messages from the notification panel. One can expect this update to roll out to the wider user base in the near future.

With over one billion regular users, WhatsApp is the world’s largest messaging service. Facebook purchased the platform in 2014 for $19 billion (£13 billion) in 2014, and has continued to run the service parallel to its own standalone Messenger app. On the other hand, WhatsApp hasn’t introduced too many new features since its launch, except for the introduction of voice calling and the blue tick read receipts.

The app recently dropped its annual subscription fee of $1, or for those who downloaded it before July 2013, the upfront fee.

Facebook, recently revealed plans to enable business accounts inside the WhatsApp platform, thereby allowing users to connect with companies with which they want to communicate via the service. While that hasn’t happened yet, it could become a reality very soon, maybe at Facebook’s upcoming F8 conference.